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Ergon-West Virginia, Inc. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency

ELR Citation: 50 ELR 20251
Nos. 19-2128, (4th Cir., 11/17/2020)

The Fourth Circuit granted for a second time an oil refinery's petition to review EPA's decision denying the refinery an exemption from biofuel requirements under the Agency's renewable fuel standard program, and vacated the Agency's decision. The refinery argued that EPA arbitrarily relied on DOE's facially deficient scoring metrics to deny the petition, ignored its proof of particularized hardship arising from substantial renewable identification number costs, and should not have relied on DOE's inconsistent definitions of the term "refining." The court found that DOE's thorough explanation of the scoring matrix and its rationale when scoring the refinery provided a sound framework for the Agency to explain its own reasoning in denying the refinery's petition, and that EPA's reliance on the Department's scoring metrics was neither arbitrary nor capricious. It further found that EPA thoroughly discussed the refinery's purported evidence of hardship, explained why it rejected the refinery's arguments, and set out factors that led it to reach its decision. It did, however, find that DOE's definitions for the term" refining" called into question the Agency's grounds for denying the petition. The court thus granted the refinery's petition for review, vacated EPA's decision, and remanded for further proceedings.